2005 August 26
by Marie Jones Holmes
New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, at a meeting of the chamber of commerce in St. Stephen on Tuesday, August 23, said he supported community efforts to prevent a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay. According to Chisholm Pothier, press secretary for the premier, Lord's statement was made in response to a question asked at the meeting. Pothier says Lord is not opposed to LNG terminals and supports the Irving Oil plan for one near Saint John, but the premier stated that Passamaquoddy Bay is not "a smart location" for LNG terminals. Lord said terminals should be sited in an appropriate location.
According to Pothier, Lord said that the situation has not changed since the proposal for an oil refinery in Eastport by the Pittston Oil Company was opposed by the Canadian government 30 years ago.
The siting of LNG terminals is a federal not a provincial issue, and the Canadian government would have the ability to prevent the siting of a terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay because the LNG ships would have to pass through Canadian waters, Lord said.
Lord plans to convey his opposition to the federal government and will also be informing Maine Governor John Baldacci of this opposition. Lord and Baldacci will be attending the 29th annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers to be held Monday, August 29, in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Baldacci's press secretary, Lynn Kippax, states, "The governor is looking forward to meeting with the premier to discuss this and other matters of mutual interest to Maine and the Maritimes."
Other officials express concern
Opposition on the Canadian side of the bay to the two LNG proposals for Passamaquoddy Bay continues to grow. The Canadian government is under pressure to block the LNG proposals by refusing to allow passage of the ships through the Canadian waters leading into the bay.
Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Andy Scott, the regional minister for New Brunswick, issued a statement on August 24 concerning the proposals for Passamaquoddy Bay, saying, "With well over 2,000 miles of U.S. coastline on the eastern seaboard, I believe that there is no need to locate these facilities in an area that presents navigational difficulties and is home to numerous endangered or at-risk species." Of concern is the potential of negative impact on the area's traditional industries including tourism, fishing and aquaculture.
"The government is monitoring the issue closely," continued Minister Scott. "We will work together with New Brunswick and are prepared to act should an LNG project application be put forward."
Shawn Graham, MLA for Kent and leader of the Liberal opposition party in New Brunswick, has written to the Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew to express the concerns of the New Brunswick Liberal caucus with regard to the proposed LNG terminals. He wrote, "Many residents of New Brunswick, especially those residents in Charlotte County and the Fundy Isles, are concerned that, if this project proceeds, the terminals and the resulting LNG tanker traffic will have serious negative economic, environmental and social consequences in the area. Given this situation, I believe that it is necessary for the Government of Canada and specifically the Department of Foreign Affairs to become involved in this file. Your department should seize the opportunity to make Canadian objections to these proposed terminals clear with both project proponents. Further, your department should inform the proponents that they do not have access to Canadian waterways for their LNG tankers."
Graham has also written to Frank McKenna, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., expressing similar concerns.
In response to the statements, Dean Girdis, president of Downeast LNG, said, "I think it is premature for anyone to take a position against the project until all the information is in. Give us a chance to formally present the project."
Girdis notes that the project is not clearly defined yet, as there are engineering and environmental studies to be completed. "We hoped we would have the opportunity to make an official report before positions were taken." Downeast LNG hopes to build a terminal and storage facilities at Mill Cove in Robbinston. Quoddy Bay LLC plans to build a terminal facility at Pleasant Point and three storage tanks in Robbinston. The Robbinston facilities would be located directly across the bay from St. Andrews.
Brian Smith of Quoddy Bay LLC also expressed surprise that the premier would come to any conclusion regarding the project without investigating the details of the facility. "He has not requested details of our facility, including ship traffic and ship routes." Both developers expressed a desire to meet with Premier Lord to discuss the LNG proposals.
August 26, 2005